Promise kept: As she finishes one dream, UAB student is living another

Written by: Matt Windsor
Media contact: Yvonne Taunton

mix promise kept main 550pxIn 2003, Lorenda Pryor enrolled at UAB and dove into the college experience. She was Miss Blount Hall, pledged Sigma Alpha Iota sorority and sang with the UAB Jazz Band.

Then life intervened. She got married, had three children and started working in the accounting department at a local company. But she found that, even though she had earned her associate’s degree in 2008, “there were certain jobs I couldn’t apply for without a bachelor’s degree,” Pryor says.

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Battling through

That career roadblock spurred her to finish her education at UAB. But Pryor also had another motivation. “I think it’s very profound that in obituaries, they always list a person’s education in great detail,” she says. “That shows how important it is.” Pryor’s father shared that opinion. “It was his lifelong goal for me to get my four-year degree and graduate,” she says.

Two years ago, with her father in failing health, Pryor re-enrolled through the UAB Finish program, which lets students complete their degrees online. “I was able to tell him, ‘That dream you had for me: I’m doing it!’” she says.

The path wasn’t always easy; her father passed away in 2016, and then Pryor herself experienced health issues, including radiation treatment. “I battled all of those challenges, and made it through,” she says. Now, she’s preparing to graduate in UAB’s spring commencement ceremony with a degree in General Studies.

“I was able to tell him, ‘That dream you had for me: I’m doing it!’”

Real-world training

“I’m a very diverse person,” Pryor says, explaining her choice of major. Her husband, a Birmingham police officer, is approaching retirement, and the couple recently opened a business, Sleek Sports Bar, in Five Points South.

She took courses in accounting, business management and marketing, all of which have helped with the thousands of tasks involved in running a business, from bookkeeping to booking bands and DJs. “I love working with numbers,” Pryor says. But she also has a creative side. “I’m taking a course in English literature, reading poetry and short stories,” she says. “For the type of person I am, this was the right degree for me.”

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“Nothing can stop you”

For a business owner and mother of three, the online courses have been “extremely convenient,” Pryor adds. “I don’t think I could have done it without that.”

As graduation day approaches, “I’m ecstatic,” Pryor says. “I’m going to make it across that stage, and that’s a great feeling.” She hopes her accomplishment inspires others as well: “If you stay focused and encouraged, there is nothing that can stop you.”